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Man City upset with Benjani ban reports

Manchester City have called on the BBC to apologise to Benjani Mwaruwari after it was claimed the Zimbabwean striker could be banned from playing in Britain.

The BBC's Inside Sport claimed on Monday the option of banning Zimbabwean athletes from competing in this country was being discussed as part of a strategy to put pressure on Robert Mugabe's regime.

Benjani, who arrived from Portsmouth on transfer deadline day in January, was named as one player who could be affected.

However the club issued a statement on their website regarding the striker's status.

Spokesman Paul Tyrrell said: "This is the worst type of scare story which shows a lack of editorial integrity from the programme makers.

"Although we are pleased that the BBC have been quickly distancing themselves from the claim regarding Benjani, it is important to make the position crystal clear regarding his ability to live and work in the UK.

"The player last month received a three-and-a-half-year work permit from the Home Office to play for Manchester City.

"We have been assured work permits are non-negotiable.

"The programme makers and the BBC should apologise to the player immediately."

The Government had earlier claimed it had no plans for a blanket ban on sportsmen from Zimbabwe.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said No 10 had been "surprised" by the BBC report suggesting that Gordon Brown was considering a ban.

"It is not the case that the Prime Minister is considering a blanket ban on Zimbabwe's sportsmen," the spokesman said.

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